Saturday, June 14, 2014

What is Creative Non-fiction?

So I've been doing some exploring of different kinds of writing, especially nonfiction since I'm a part-journalism major and I'm trying to figure out what other kinds of nonfiction writing is out there. Well there's this genre called creative nonfiction (also called literary nonfiction or narrative nonfiction), and I don't know how many people know what it is.

According to the Creative Nonfiction Collective Society, it is defined as:
For many of us, the label “creative nonfiction” is still somewhat awkward. Also known as literary or narrative nonfiction, the genre is almost as difficult to define as it is to name. It is perhaps easier to start with what creative nonfiction does NOT include: technical or instructional works, conventional newspaper reportage, and nonfiction work characterized by a neutral (so-called objective) third person perspective.
Characteristic of creative nonfiction is a personal, identifiable voice. The writer is usually quite present in the text. Works of creative nonfiction include – but are not limited to – memoirs, biography, historical investigation, literary journalism, political commentary, social or cultural criticism, and essays that are personal or lyric or narrative.
 The CNFC would also like to point out that although its nonfiction written in a similar way to fiction, you're not suppose to make things up or imagine situations like fiction writers do.

In my research, I gathered several "guidelines" for creative nonfiction.

  1. Use recorded subjects, something you can document
  2. Exhaustive research
  3. Instead of objective writing like in journalism, really try to describe what you're writing like you're there
  4. Use a "literary prose style"
  5. Search for the truth and be as accurate as possible. Don't make anything up. 
There is apparently a debate within the genre about if you're allowed to make anything up at all. See, from what I could gather (mostly on wikipedia) is that apparently not all of your sources are going to be reliable and since memory isn't always right, you should be allowed a little leeway to "fill in the gaps". 

A comprehensive list I've compiled of all the different forms of creative nonfiction:
  • Biography
  • Autobiography
  • memoir
  • diary
  • travel/food/nature/science writing
  • social/culture criticism
  • Interviews
  • literary journalism
  • chronicle
  • personal essays
  • lyrical/narrative essays
  • historical investigations
  • political commentary
In case you're looking for some examples, offers some essays and other pieces as examples as well as some articles and resources on the genre. 

Resources What is Creative Nonfiction?

I hope this has been helpful.


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